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An receives National Academy of Inventors fellowship for drug discovery program

Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at McGovern Medical School. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)
Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at McGovern Medical School. (Photo by UTHealth Houston)

An innovative academic drug discovery program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) has earned Zhiqiang An, PhD, professor and director of the Texas Therapeutics Institute of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine at McGovern Medical School, a fellowship with the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

“Drug discovery is a complex process and teamwork,” An said. “I am grateful for the support and contribution from my colleagues, collaborators, the technology transfer office of UTHealth Houston, and the industry partners.”

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

An’s lab works on innovative treatments for cancer and other human diseases, particularly in developing targeted treatments involving the use of proteins called antibodies that can be engineered to latch onto tumor cells and disrupt their growth.

During the past 10 years, he and his collaborators have advanced five first-in-class drug candidates into human clinical trials for diseases including acute myeloid leukemia, breast cancer bone metastasis, solid tumor, spinal cord injury, and COVID-19. Five additional antibody drug candidates are in preclinical development, including one that blocks T-cell exclusion in the tumor microenvironment.

His research is supported by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Welch Foundation, and the pharmacy industry. An received his PhD from the University of Kentucky before completing his postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin. He joined the faculty at McGovern Medical School in 2009.

To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 48,000 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than one million jobs. In addition, over $3 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

The 2021 Fellow class hails from 116 research university and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide. They collectively hold over 4,800 issued U.S. patents. Among the new class of Fellows are 33 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and three Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. The collective body of research and entrepreneurship covers a broad range of scientific disciplines involved with technology transfer of their inventions for the benefit of society.

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available here. The 2021 new Fellows will be inducted at the Fellows Induction Ceremony at the 11th Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors this upcoming June in Phoenix.

The National Academy of Inventors is a member organization comprising U.S. and international universities, and governmental and non-profit research institutes, with over 4,000 individual inventor members and Fellows spanning more than 250 institutions worldwide. It was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

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